Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol on Monday questioned the proposed transfer of the African Union Mission's role in Darfur to the UN after parties to the conflict in the region have signed a peace agreement.
Speaking at a closed meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU, Akol said the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) contains provisions on security arrangements but did not refer to any possible role for a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.
Akol's statement was made available to the press after its delivery to the 51st meeting of the PSC.
Representatives of the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) on 5 May 2006 signed the DPA in Abuja, Nigeria, at the climax of peace negotiations that involved all parties to the bloody conflict in Darfur.
"Why wasn't the presence of a UN force in Darfur included in the Darfur Peace Agreement? "If the UN seeks a role for its forces in Darfur, such a matter can only be reasonably discussed between the UN on the one hand and the Government of Sudan and other signatories to the Abuja agreement on the other," the minister argued.
Akol said Sudanese authorities were in agreement with the AU Commission Chairperson's call for the strengthening of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS), "especially in the light of the additional tasks to be performed by the Mission under the agreement.
" According to the minister, the signing of the DPA has created a new reality on the ground that rendered the issue of the transfer of AMIS to the UN no longer relevant.
"A study of the DPA reveals that the AU is the only foreign party given the task to monitor and oversee the implementation of the security arrangements in Darfur," Akol asserted.
Though Sudan has reaffirmed its willingness to dialogue with the UN "as regards its perceived role after signing the DPA," Akol said, "this position is in stark contrast to the talk going on these days on the transfer of the AU Mission in Darfur to the UN.
" On the strained diplomatic ties between Sudan and neighbouring Chad, the minister was optimistic that the DPA would have a positive impact on the relations between the two countries.
Despite the measures taken by Chad against Sudan, he said Khartoum exercised maximum restraint and did not react.